IF YOU BACKPACK into Ireland for a cultural celebration and you're not Caucasian, you will enjoy a closer review of your intentions. That's what a group of three students discovered when trying to make a short break into Dublin right around St Patrick's Day this year. The Latin American News Agency reports "three Brazilian university students denounced being mistreated by immigration authorities in Ireland, saying that instead of enjoying a week-long holiday, they were imprisoned for 40 hours in the European country."
From Prensa Latina via Keola Donaghy comes the story about Andre Sao Pedro (22) and Maria Dias (24), both from Bahia, and Thais Tibirica (24), from Sao Paulo, who were attending exchange courses in Portugal and decided to travel from Portugal to Ireland on a short spring break. They got to spend time in prison instead.
"They were refused entry by Dublin authorities on the grounds that they had 'insufficient money' to stay for seven days in the country, despite each of them had $350 in cash and credit cards worth over 3,000 euros, they told journalists.
"They were first held at the airport for four hours and then sent to a prison, where they shared cells with ordinary prisoners, said Thais, who described the action as discriminatory 'because Andre is black and Maria is also dark-skinned.'
"The case was confirmed to Folha by the Brazilian Embassy in Dublin, and the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said to have received complaints by another Brazilian student aged 18 who tried to visit Ireland and was also held in prison for 10 hours.
"Describing Irish immigration's behavior as inadequate and unacceptable, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry demanded a detailed investigation by the embassy, noting that 115 Brazilians were expelled from Ireland last year and another 57 have been expelled so far in 2008."
Speaking from experience, you don't have to be dark-skinned to be stopped at Dublin Airport and shunted to a holding cell. You can enjoy this same level of screening and subsequent hospitality throughout the post 9-11 world.